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Matt James, the next ‘Bachelor’, is a former Wake Forest wide receiver

Matt James has been announced as the first Black man to lead the franchise in 25 seasons.

For the first time in the history of the 40-season, 18-year franchise, The Bachelor has a Black male lead. Matt James, a 28-year-old real estate broker and Raleigh native, was announced as the newest lead on Good Morning America.

This announcement comes on the heels of a petition circulated by a group called the Bachelor Diversity Campaign that demanded ABC take more diverse actions in the casting of the show. Over 85,000 people have signed the petition, including several high-profile Bachelor alumni. Rachel Lindsay — the lone Black woman cast as a lead in the Bachelorette franchise — has also been vocal about the need for change within the franchise, saying it, “needs a diversity makeover.”

Mike Johnson, a popular Black American contestant on the 2019 season of The Bachelorette featuring Hannah Brown as the lead, was rumored to be in contention for last season of The Bachelor before Peter Weber was selected.

Die-hard fans of The Bachelor know James as the good friend of Tyler Cameron — the runner up on Brown’s season of The Bachelorette — and as a suitor on Clare Crawley’s current season that was delayed by the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Super die hard football fans might also recognize the name as James played wide receiver for the Wake Forest Demon Deacons. James played for the Deacs from 2010-14, and was the third on the team in receiving his senior season with 401 yards on 40 receptions.

He redshirted his first season in Winston-Salem, and struggled with injuries — he broke his collar bone in his sophomore year and had a shoulder injury that derailed his junior season — throughout his career.

His senior season (2014), the Demon Deacons went 3-9 (1-7 ACC) with wins over Gardner-Webb, Army, and Virginia Tech.

Here are his career stats:

Sports Reference

James, who played on the Carolina Panthers and New Orleans Saints practice squads before being ultimately cut, has been living in New York City for about two years. There, he founded ABC Food Tours, a program that aims to “engage kids in underserved communities” through creative outlets that factor in physical and mental aspects.

His popularity has grown on social media — James has over 272,000 followers on Instagram as of this post — as he joined Cameron, Brown, and a handful of others in what they dubbed “The Quarantine Crew”.

While we’ll have to wait until 2021 for his season to air, Matt James looks like a great fit.